A/N: I want to send a HUGE thank you to An Origami Fish, who's epic story, A Destiny Altered, helped me rediscover my passion for writing and the Star Wars Universe before Anakin Solo's untimely death. Yes, I still haven't gotten over that one after all these years. Thanks to A Destiny Altered I can at least take some comfort in reading the way the NJO should have ended.
In the true style of Star Wars, this is going to be a trilogy. I've already completed parts 1 & 2 (just doing clean up/editing) and am about half way through part 3 so I'm hoping to post at least every other week, if not more often. It's been more than ten years since I've read anything Star Wars (I kind of just glossed through the NJO books after Star by Star to finish the series and then haven't picked up another book since), so please forgive any inaccuracies. There's only so much my brain can remember.
5 days after the Myrkr mission
"I feel fine," Anakin Solo insisted.
Beside him, Tahiri Veila snorted. "If this is what fine feels like, I'd hate to know what not fine feels like."
"I've got to agree with Tahiri on this one," said Corran Horn, running a concerned eye over the two teens. "You both just spent the last five days in bacta and look like you could spend a few more in there. Cilghal, are you sure they're all right to leave here?"
The Mon Calamari Jedi Master and healer nodded. "There is nothing medically wrong with either one of them. The bacta has healed their most severe injuries."
"I sense a but coming," said Corran knowingly.
"More of an observation, actually," Cilghal responded. "There is no medical reason that can explain how Anakin was able to survive the injuries he sustained. He was mortally wounded. From what I can gather, along with what both Anakin and Tahiri have told me, it was the Force bond they share that saved him. Tahiri's force energy absorbed enough of Anakin's injuries to at least make it possible to save him. Of course, it was not without severe side effects to herself."
"What about any other side effects?"
"To be perfectly honest, I have never heard or read of anything remotely similar happening. There are Jedi who area healers like myself but what Tahiri did was not healing. She took on Anakin's injuries and they became her own. That is why her condition was as serious as his."
"So that's your roundabout way of saying you don't know what other side effects there could be?"
"That is correct, Master Horn."
"Could you be any more depressing?" Tahiri said, clearly exasperated as she hopped down from the examination table. "Anakin's alive, that's all that matters."
"What you did was reckless," Corran admonished.
"I didn't even know what I was doing, but I would do it again."
There was a definite note of defiance in her voice but Anakin could also feel her anxiety and fear as she recalled what it felt like to believe he was going to die. There was also a small part of her that was angry at him for not letting Tekli heal him and then charging at a group of Yuuzhan Vong all on his own because he thought he wouldn't survive his injuries.
He tentatively brushed her mind through the Force bond they shared. He felt a strong need to reassure her that he was fine. She accepted the warmth he sent her way. She might still be angry with him but for the moment was too relieved he was alive to let it get in the way.
"So until Han and Leia get here, I'm responsible for the both of you," Corran said to them. "Since I'm only one man and the two of you have proven to be magnets for trouble, I'm asking you as a favor to me to stay out of trouble, okay?"
"We'll do our best, Master Horn," Anakin responded before Tahiri could, knowing the sarcastic retort she had in mind.
Corran appeared less than convinced. "Maybe I should just have you both confined to quarters – separate quarters that is," he added, sensing the reaction from Anakin and Tahiri at his initial remark. "You two are going to give me more grey hairs than my own children," he muttered, sighing as the two teens blushed.
"It could be worse. At least we're not making you lose your hair," Tahiri couldn't resist adding.
"That remains to be seen," Corran remarked dryly.
With barely contained laughter, Tahiri and Anakin left the medical facility, leaving Corran shaking his head as he followed after them.
It was late when a wide awake Anakin glanced at the chrono situated on the nightstand beside his bed. He'd barely slept for more than a few hours at a time since returning from the Myrkr station. He was haunted by nightmares of himself dying. Tahiri never saved him. He succumbed to his injuries and what was left of the Myrkr strike team could do nothing but bring his body back, with Tahiri sobbing uncontrollably over his corpse. Those things alone made it seem like it was just a nightmare – but it didn't end there. The nightmares continued; he saw Jaina going dark, Jacen becoming a prisoner of the Yuuzhan Vong and more. Those things hadn't happened so what were they? Visions of a future that would unfold? Or was his mind still dealing with the horrific events at Myrkr that his brain was conjuring up these nightmares?
It left him unsettled to say the least. Tahiri knew there was something wrong – he couldn't hide anything from her, let alone something like this. But so far she was giving him space to try and work through it on his own. He was certain that wouldn't last long though. He glanced at her sleeping form beside him, grateful that his insomnia had not wakened her.
They had done as Corran asked – gone to separate quarters. That had lasted all of ten minutes when Tahiri showed up at his room with a packed travel bag. No explanation was needed because Anakin felt the same way. After what they'd just lived through there was an overwhelming need to be close to each other.
Though they hadn't followed Corran's first request, they behaved themselves – mostly because they were too exhausted and still recovering from their injuries to do much else. They had gone to bed together and promptly fallen asleep. Anakin had thought it would be awkward – they had never shared a bed together before – but recent events seemed to trump any awkwardness for the both of them.
Take her Jacen. Kiss Tahiri for me. When he'd thought those words to his brother he had known his own death was moments away. Tell her I love her. With that next thought, Jacen hadn't been the only one to hear it. With all his mental barriers down, there had been no way for Tahiri not to hear it, to know everything he was feeling in what should have been those last few moments of his life. It spurred her into action as she left the relative safety of the others to fight at his side, ignoring the order he gave her to leave with everyone else. Tahiri would have none of that. She made him a promise that either they both made it out of there or neither of them would.
The next sequence of events had been incredible. Tahiri's Force presence enveloping his, giving him strength and somehow miraculously making him feel better. He had no idea at the time that by doing so his own injuries were being inflicted on her. Instead of finding himself barely clinging to life, he had found renewed strength and energy. Together, Tahiri and himself had eliminated the Yuuzhan Vong threat, a mountain of bodies evidence to what they had done. It wasn't the first time they had used their link in battle – it had worked many times when they were kids – but this had been something altogether different. They had been like one cohesive mind controlling both their bodies. Words were an unnecessary form of communication – they just knew what the other was going to do before they did it.
When it was all over, they had both lapsed into unconsciousness and it took everything in Tekli's power to keep them both alive long enough to reach Hapes. He had awoken in bacta three days later to the scowling face of his sister, who was yelling at him with tears in her eyes for being such an idiot. Then she proceeded to berate Tahiri the same way before softening and expressing her gratefulness at what she had done for her brother.
In the aftermath, Anakin knew they still had some things to work out between them. When they had joined minds during the battle, there had been no secrets between them. Their feelings for one another rang loud and clear. They had been more than best friends for awhile now but suddenly everything was different. With the voxyn threat eliminated, maybe they would get some down time to figure everything out.
Ever so gently, Anakin removed his arm from around Tahiri. He knew if he remained where he was she would undoubtedly wake up. Their bond, stronger than ever now, would alert her that he was awake and she would want to know the source of his insomnia. He didn't want to worry her anymore than she probably already was.
Though they had landed on Hapes initially, there was so much anti-Jedi sentiments that once he and Tahiri had been placed into bacta everyone else, Jaina in particular, had reluctantly gone to the Ralroost in hopes of avoiding any kind of political fallout. Only Cighal and Tenal Ka had remained behind. The future Hapan Queen had promised Jaina they would be safe.
Now that they were out of bacta, Corran had shuttled them back to the Ralroost and that was where they would be staying for the time being.
Anakin had initially intended to just wander the ship, mulling through his thoughts. His path, however, soon took him to his brother's quarters, which surprised him to say the least.
Their relationship was by no means perfect and Anakin wasn't sure if they would ever get back to what things had been like when they were kids. They were both too different and the rift between them only seemed to be widening as the war went on. He knew Jacen didn't agree with a lot of the things he did, and his brother's disapproval of the Myrkr mission coupled with how he had questioned his leadership were all still fresh in his mind. Those thoughts were almost enough to make Anakin change his mind and walk away. Then he felt Jacen become alerted to his presence and any thoughts of leaving disappeared. If nothing else, Jacen might provide an objective viewpoint on his situation. Despite their differences, Jacen was very much attuned to the Force and could possibly provide some answers that had eluded Anakin thus far.
"You look terrible, little brother," Jacen said, giving him a once over.
He started to say he was fine but realized he wasn't. Insisting he was all right when he clearly wasn't was what had almost got him killed in the first place. "I couldn't sleep," he said instead. Anakin walked inside his brother's quarters, noticing the holonet receiver turned on. "Was I interrupting something?"
Jacen shrugged. "I was just speaking with Tenal Ka."
Despite the reason he had come to see Jacen in the first place, Anakin couldn't resist grinning. "I see. How is she?"
"As fine as someone can be when you're on a planet full of people who want to kill you."
"Maybe she needs a Jedi body guard to protect her."
"I highly doubt that. What brings you here in the middle of the night?" Jacen said, ignoring what Anakin was hinting at.
"It's stupid." Anakin suddenly felt silly for going there in the first place. After everything he had seen and done in this war he was worrying over a few nightmares of all things.
"If it was stupid you wouldn't look so troubled. Your Force presence is a mess," Jacen said, frowning. "What's going on?"
Reluctantly, since he knew there was no way Jacen would let him leave otherwise, he told his brother about the nightmares. Jacen seemed to take it all in stride, quietly listening to him explain every detail of them.
"Anakin, Myrkr was a traumatic experience for everyone – especially for you," Jacen started when he was finished. "I know I wasn't your biggest supporter – okay, I was overly critical of you from the moment you started planning the mission," Jacen amended at seeing the look Anakin was sending his way, "but no matter how much I preach about Jedi not being the aggressors in this war, there wasn't any doubt that something needed to be done about the voxyn. Your plan might have been a little too crazy and reckless for my tastes but you saw a threat to the Jedi and were the only one willing to take action. You knew going into it that there would be causalities but the alternative was to watch the Jedi brought to the brink of extinction, something we haven't faced since the days of the Empire. A real leader is someone who not only recognizes there's tough choices to be made but can also make them."
Anakin stared at his brother for several long seconds, not quite believing his ears. Finally, he spoke, saying, "you couldn't have said all that to me before Myrkr? It would have helped a lot to know you believed in me."
"I'm sorry, Anakin," Jacen said, sounding truly apologetic. "Looking back, I know I didn't help things. In fact, I probably only made things worse by causing you to question yourself and the decisions you were making. I just wanted to make sure you were aware that your decisions have consequences – even more so when you're in charge, giving the orders and people's lives depending on you."
"Maybe if I had listened to you more, fewer people would have died," said Anakin, his tone both remorseful and guilt-ridden.
"Maybe," Jacen conceded, earning himself a sharp glance from his younger brother. "Or maybe more people would have died. Either way, good people died but their deaths are not your fault," he added, knowing how Anakin's mind worked, especially with some of the recent negativity he was getting from a group of the Jedi who considered the Myrkr mission a disaster despite their success in killing the voxyn queen. Those Jedi seemed to be divided on thinking the mission never should have been approved in the first place, while others felt the causalities would have been smaller with someone more experienced in charge instead of entrusting it to a teenager just because his last name happened to be Solo. "It was a volunteer mission, remember? Everyone knew what they were signing up for. If you talk to any surviving member of the Myrkr strike team not one of them blame you for anything that happened there. You made tough choices to ensure the success of the mission."
Anakin felt himself in a stunned state as his brother finished talking. He had never expected Jacen to say those things to him. If anything, he figured he'd get another lecture the next time they discussed Myrkr – but not understanding or even empathy. Maybe the rift between them wasn't quite as large as Anakin had feared.
"Now, back to the reason you're here," said Jacen, drawing Anakin away from his thoughts. "The point I was trying to make earlier is that you almost died at Myrkr. Add to that the fact that you probably keep replaying the events in your head wondering what you could have done differently and it's no wonder you're having nightmares. It's your mind's way of dealing with the events."
"It feels like it's more than that, Jace," Anakin insisted. "I know Jaina used Force lightning." He had been unconscious at the time but Zekk had come to see him while he was in bacta and had told him as much. He seemed deeply troubled by Jaina's actions, having been a dark Jedi himself once. Anakin could tell by the look on his brother's face then that he was still concerned by that as well. "I know she was just trying to get us out of there, but doesn't it bother you at all? I've done less and you've lectured me on the dangers of the dark side."
"For now, I'm letting Zekk deal with it," Jacen said simply. "It doesn't mean I'm not worried about her, but of all of us he knows the dark side best. If Jaina really was on the verge of going dark, I would feel it. She wouldn't be able to hide something like through our twin bond," Jacen added in an attempt to reassure his younger brother.
"Okay, say some of what you saw was a vision of things to come," Jacen said, going back to the orginal topic of their discussion. "What are you going to do? Lock me up here so I'm safe from the Yuuzhan Vong? Follow Jaina around and make sure she doesn't do anything else dark sideish? If there's one thing we both can agree on it's that the future is always in motion. Anything can happen. Action, or even inaction can change the course of events."
Anakin rubbed his face in frustration. "You're not making me feel any better."
"Sorry," Jacen said with an apologetic grin. "I don't have any answers for you, Anakin. I'm not all knowing and neither are you. We can only control our own actions – and sometimes even that proves to be difficult."
Anakin felt a sudden surge of panic followed by an urgent tug on his mind. I'm okay, Tahiri.
How was I supposed to know that? You just left in the middle of the night. For all I knew, you were leading the charge down to the next Yuuzhan Vong infested planet.
Sorry. I just needed to clear my head. I didn't want to wake you.
Too bad, I'm awake now.
I'll be back soon.
Jacen raised an eyebrow. "Tahiri?"
"She woke up and found me gone. I guess she kind of panicked." Anakin realized with that statement he had revealed their sleeping arrangements to Jacen. He turned away from his brother so he wouldn't see his face reddening.
Jacen chuckled. "Got you on a tight leash, doesn't she?"
"Something like that."
"I guess you can't really blame her after Myrkr."
No, Anakin supposed he couldn't.
After that, Anakin left his brother's quarters. He didn't feel any better but he didn't feel any worse. He had gone to Jacen in hopes of answers but his older brother didn't have any. But if there was one thing Anakin was certain of it was that he would not let those visions come to pass. He would do everything in his power to protect his family.